Body Posture and Perceptions of the Homeless

Body Posture and Perceptions of the Homeless

Does the posture of people experiencing homelessness affect our judgments about them? Is our perception of their capability or approachability affected by whether they are standing or sitting? To investigate this question experimentally, photographs featuring 5 men and 5 women in 5 different posture positions (standing, leaning, squatting, sitting, and laying) were presented to 50 participants in an online survey. Participants rated the pictures on a scale of 1-4 in response to 3 different questions: (1) How capable do you imagine this person feels? (2) How safe do you imagine this person is to approach? (3) If this person asked you for $1, how likely would you be to give it? The results suggest that posture affects ratings across these questions. Pictures of people in less upright positions were judged as less capable and less safe and were slightly more likely to receive a $1 donation. These results will inform our understanding of how those experiencing homelessness are perceived and might be useful for breaking stereotypes.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2017